Tech Talk: Technology Changes Everything
A shorter road to retirement: retire without quitting.
As many of us get closer to retirement, we start to imagine ourselves at that beach enjoying coffee at sunrise, meals overlooking a beautiful vista, or relaxing with a brandy by a roaring fire at a mountainside retreat, enjoying the well-earned fruits of our labor. While a change in lifestyle and scenery is often what we crave, retirement is a big life-altering change. Many would like to transition by being able to enjoy some of what retirement has to offer, like location and flexibility, while still having the structure, intellectual stimulation, and, let’s face it, the financial rewards of still working.
Because of the changing nature of work and global connectivity, you may no longer have to choose. We rely on laptop computing, the internet, wireless networks, and smart phones to work. These innovations have allowed us to be more productive. The walls of the modern offices have grown less solid, and more of us are freed to work from anywhere and everywhere.
In 2017, Forbes said that up to 43% of people spent at least some time working remotely. Working remotely helps eliminate the time and expense associated with commuting and allows companies to access a much larger talent pool because they are not geographically limited to those willing to relocate or commute daily to their physical location. Also, working remotely allows many people to be more productive, and having work flexibility increases employee satisfaction and retention. Voice and video conferencing apps available on our smartphones allow us to cooperate with the appropriate people over vast distances and time zones without having to deal the costs and inconvenience of travel. This evolution, which allows us to be productive everywhere, has also expanded the options for work in semi-retirement.
Keep your job
You want it all: the location, the lifestyle, but you still love your work and don’t want to give that up completely either. This option involves having an honest conversation with your employer about your plans and goals. Employers love to be efficient, and losing a valuable member of their organization, especially employees who understand their business and have established relationships, is a costly endeavor. In these situations, employers are often willing to make reasonable accommodations in time flexibility and work location to retain a valuable team member.
Traditional employment is not the only option when it comes to working remotely. The technology which has enabled this revolution has also helped to grow and change the very nature of employment. These changes have brought about the “Gig economy.” The Gig economy is basically work without all the strings. It allows people to offer freelance services on a per job basis having the flexibility of time and location.
Websites acting as on-line temp agencies for freelance work have grown exponentially. There are now scores of websites that allow people to offer and find work. Sites such as Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer offer opportunities for people to work by the hour, project, or job. While many of these sites allow virtual work from anywhere, others like TaskRabbit are more location specific. They look to match local people in a community with diverse tasks with people who can and want to do the work. The tasks can be anything really; install a ceiling fan, organize a closet, assemble IKEA furniture, pet sit, or simply wait in line. This is a fantastic option for people, especially retirees, who have time to try different things and meet new people but don’t want traditional hours or work environment.
The Life Exotic
Tired of the ordinary and looking for adventure? If your skillset suits remote work, then perhaps you decide to become a true digital nomad for a while. The same technology that allows people to work remotely isn’t hemmed in by borders or time zones. This lifestyle is not for everyone but offers those with a true zest for adventure a new opportunity. Many adventurers use technology to set up shop and live pretty much anywhere on the planet. These digital nomads find connectivity hotspots and commune from Bali to Latvia and other interesting and exotic places around the world. They are drawn to sites that have low costs for living with good co-work spaces. While their living costs are usually low, they are most often working for first world wages. This remote working arrangement offers the flexibility to accommodate the desire for travel and adventure and the need to produce income for all that travel and adventure. While this lifestyle is generally associated with younger people, the advantage of adopting this lifestyle later in life is that you likely have assets to support your travels and can be choosy in finding and taking on new assignments, not to mention better digs.
Technology has changed the way we work and now has the power to positively impact our choices as we decide how we wish to live and work. As technology, such as virtual reality and robotics, become more ubiquitous, our opportunities for and relationship with work will continue to change for the better. So, you can have it all: location, lifestyle, and work. It can all be yours to enjoy as you imagine the vistas that lie ahead.
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Six Financial Planning Considerations for a Successful Retirement
How much money will you need to retire? Do you have a financial plan to help you meet the needs of retirement? Do you have enough assets to last a retirement of 20 to 30 years? Do you have a Retirement Income Spend-Down Plan? How will you manage rising health care costs and long-term care?
These are loaded questions; many factors are involved and a “cookie cutter plan” will not meet the needs of everyone. Baby Boomers were most impacted by the “Great Recession” 10 years ago. Given the economic rebound since and inevitable recessions in the economic cycle, we wanted to take a look at strategies for a secure retirement by examining the five common planning issues people may encounter.
According to a recent Schwab survey, only 25 percent of Americans have a written strategy for retirement.
So, when ideal-LIVING reached out to us at Lawrence S. Tundidor, AIF®, AAMS®, AWMA® of Tundidor & Weiss Investment Group, we were grateful for to be given the opportunity to offer our insight in order to help future retirees find ways to avoid these common issues. Here are six key points that will make all the difference.
one. Take control of your money
two. Not having a proper retirement income spend-down plan
three. Having an antiquated investment portfolio
four. Underestimating risks: longevity, investment, inflation
five. Lacking protection for your family and estate
six. Working with a financial advisor who puts your best interests first
Take control of your money
Upon changing employment/retirement, some keep their money in the original employer sponsor plan. It is important to take into account one’s personal situation and consider the various options, which include: keeping your assets in the original plan; withdrawing your assets (taxes are generally due upon withdrawal and any applicable tax penalties that may apply); or choosing to rollover your assets to an employer-sponsored retirement plan that accepts rollovers or to another eligible vehicle such as a traditional IRA. It is imperative to take control of your money when you make the decision to retire from your company. Considering your options will give you the freedom to work toward maximizing your investments.
Pension Maximization Possibilities
Examine pension survivorship benefits. If you are one of the lucky ones to retire with a pension, at the time of retirement, you must elect how you will disperse the benefit. To protect your spouse, you can typically opt for a lower monthly amount to ensure your spouse is covered until “end of plan.” This may or may not be the best option. Some clients choose to opt for the single life benefit and instead have an Insurance policy to protect their spouse or beneficiaries. In some cases, not only can it protect loved ones, but some insurance policies allow for the death benefit to also be used for long-term care. This can ensure that the benefit will be used during one’s life, death, or both. This is an irrevocable decision, so consult with a financial advisor before finalizing your election.
The majority of pension benefits do not have a “COLA” (Cost of Living Adjustment) increase with age, therefore, consider what the money will be worth in 20 years. Assuming above a three percent inflation rate, a $4,000 a month pension would only be worth about $2,000 a month in 20 years. For those with a lump sum option, consider the option to invest and generate an income stream that has the ability to offset inflation pressures over time.
Not having a proper retirement income spend-down plan
Where do you draw your money from when you need it? From an IRA? Sell stocks? 401Ks? Real estate? Brokerage accounts?
You have worked very hard for your money and decisions on when and where to use your money can have ill-intentioned consequences.
Plan where your money will come from instead of putting it all into one pot. In retirement, you should consider having long-term, mid- term, and short-term investments to help protect you from market fluctuations while maximizing your income potential. More conservative investments go in short-term, moderate investments for mid-term, and more aggressive in long-term. Picking and choosing investments to liquidate on a monthly basis can be stressful, and most advisors show you how and where to save but not how to create an income stream from your investment assets.
When drawing income directly from a 401k, the plan provider will typically sell shares or “units” to send you a monthly amount you requested. The issue with this strategy is that you are indiscriminately selling shares in an up or down market regardless of price. In a down market, you are selling shares at a lower price and therefore cannot allow time for those shares to recover essentially burning the candle on both ends. Consider investments that provide a dividend or yield that allow you to draw income without selling shares.
Having an income spend-down plan can help minimize taxes. For example, if you are taking all of your income from your IRA, this could potentially put you in a higher tax bracket. The goal is to determine how much money to draw from each of your investment assets to maximize your returns and minimize your tax consequences.
Having an antiquated investment portfolio
A recent Vanguard study projected investors’ portfolio returns over the next 10 years to be between three and five percent annually versus nine to 11 percent they have enjoyed over the last decade. Many pre-retirees/retirees have invested with a 60/40 stock/bond ratio and think their portfolio is diversified and able to generate enough income. In the past, bonds have yielded five to seven percent, but now most estimates put projections for bond returns at an average of two percent. It is important to examine having some portion of your investments in alternative assets or alternative strategies to work to minimize volatility and potentially increase return. As few as two percent of the U.S. population has a truly diversified portfolio with alternatives. Diversification may allow you to hedge against inflation and interest rates.
There are three major types of risk that people fail to analyze: investment risk, longevity risk, and inflation risk.
Investment risk (tied to sequence of returns) is the possibility that your investments could lose value because of movements in financial markets. A recession historically comes once or twice every decade. If you had retired during that time and were forced to sell investments to fund your retirement expenses, then you would have lost a great deal of the upside when the market recovered. For example, Disney stock had dipped down to $20 in 2008; you may not have been able to wait for it to recover and then sell when the price was much higher. Now that it has been 10 years since the last recession and many have enjoyed great returns since then, it would be wise to re-evaluate their investments to make sure they are in line with their time horizon. Many individuals who visit the Ideal-LIVING Shows today were still working and still had many years to retirement in 2008; but now that they are closer to retirement, it is important that they evaluate their current situation.
People today are living longer, and this forces us to evaluate longevity risks. According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a 50 percent chance that a Baby Boomer today will live to age 90. If you don’t plan accordingly, your income could run out before you do. Most people think if they draw 4 percent out per year, they will have enough income to last. Some have recently argued that number should be about 2.5 to three percent per year. In the first three years of retirement, the average retiree tends to spend approximately 20 percent more and this overdraw can also contribute to insufficient sums for the later years if not planned for correctly.
Don’t forget inflation. At above a three percent inflation rate, the value of a dollar in 20 years is about half of what it is worth today. A 2018 Bankrate survey concluded that some Americans are still risk averse and have left a large amount of money sitting in cash. If the bank gives you a yield at a rate under inflation, you are actually earning a negative return during that time. Be aware of how inflation affects your bottom line and focus on inflation adjusted income in retirement.
Lacking protection for you. Your family, and your estate
According to Fidelity, a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need an average of $275,000 to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses. And that doesn’t include the costs associated with long-term nursing home care.
Often times, retirees might have a last will and testament, but not a comprehensive estate plan. Adequate protections should be evaluated for health ,as well as leaving a legacy. The US Census indicates that one in five Americans may become disabled for a period of time. Do you have a plan in the event a disability occurs years before retirement due to an accident or poor health? Do you have a plan to deal with the rising cost of long-term care (LTC) insurance? According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, around 70 percent of adults over the age of 65 will need long-term care insurance at some point in their lives, and it is usually at the tail end of a financial plan when assets tend to be at their lowest point after 20 to 30 years of withdrawals. Consider ways to mitigate those long-term care costs. Traditional long-term care can be a good option for some as they can lock in a specific benefit and have the ability to grow it to offset inflation. The downside is that if you don’t use the benefit, you typically lose it, and as you get older, the premiums are not fixed and can go up over time. A Hybrid Life Insurance policy with a long-term care rider allows one to have a life insurance benefit while still working or in retirement, with the ability to use some or all of their death benefit for the purposes of long-term care in their later years. This option can give clients the ability to pay for a benefit that they know will be used in one way or another, potentially eliminating the feeling of “use it or lose it” that some may have with traditional policies. Also, Hybrid policies can be structured with “fixed” premiums or a lump-sum and therefore, reduce the risk of rising premiums that some may experience traditionally. The downside is that underwriting requirements are typically more stringent since you are underwriting a death benefit and living benefit together. Many individuals have older cash value policies without a LTC benefit that may consider
re-evaluating those policies to create a new benefit. The third option is asset-based; using either retirement accounts or cash to generate an annuity stream during retirement that can continue to pay for long-term care costs later in life. This option can also be useful to individuals who are not able to pass the medical examination requirements of traditional or hybrid policies, as well as those in risk classes such as smokers and those with Diabetes where the price may be prohibitive.
As far as a strategy for estate planning is concerned, all pre-tax retirement plans and traditional IRAs require a minimum annual distribution after reaching the age of 70 and a half. Most take that distribution and simply put it into a savings account. Other options can be to take the cash and invest post-tax, to contribute to long-term care protection, or to leave a legacy. What type of legacy would you like to leave? You could gift money to your children/grandchildren, set up an endowment for charity, or protect the assets in a trust. There are countless options and strategies to create the legacy you choose.
Working with a financial advisor who puts your best interests first.
Post-retirement living is very different, so take the time to explore your options well in advance of your retirement age. We encourage you to sit down with an unbiased, independent financial advisor that puts your best interests first and helps you compose a written personalized and holistic financial strategy with the goals of protecting your retirement investments and securing the next chapter of your financial future. To learn more about the topics above, please attend Lawrence’s seminars held at the King of Prussia, PA, and Parsippany, NJ, Ideal-LIVING Real Estates Shows in January and February. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to contact Lawrence at LawrenceT@VoyaFA.com.
Investment adviser representative and registered representative of, and securities and investment advisory services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SPIC). Neither Voya Financial Advisors nor its representatives offer tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation. Tundidor & Weiss is not a subsidiary of nor controlled by Voya Financial Advisors. 37310919_IAR_102D
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An Ideal Confluence of Work and Play
Scotch Hall Preserve is a North Carolina waterfront community set on a prominent headland where Salmon Creek and the Chowan River flow into Albemarle Sound. Native Americans called the area “Avoca,” meaning “the meeting of the waters.”
Lois and Richard Gobbi are originally from California but moved to Maryland 20 years ago because of his engineering work. As they neared retirement age, the Gobbis began a search that eventually brought them to North Carolina.
“We were looking for a water view where we could build our dream retirement home,” Lois said. “We looked extensively in Maryland and Virginia and found places that just didn’t suit us at much higher prices. The value of the property here was a definite attraction.”
The Gobbis found that perfect view at a Scotch Hall Preserve homesite overlooking the sound and moved into their dream home in 2017. But, like many couples who move to warmer climes these days, they didn’t both retire right away. Lois had finished up her work in a high school counseling office in 2016, but Richard still consults for a government contractor from his home office.
“Working from home allows him to enjoy the beauty of Scotch Hall and continue his career,” Lois said. She also has a home art studio for a hobby that has become a new calling as she’s gotten more involved in community life. “I’m on the HOA Advisory Board and Architectural Review Committee,” she said, “and I’ve organized art classes for the residents. My love is for painting and helping others learn to paint is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Scotch Hall is such a special place, not just
because of its beautiful surroundings, but because
of the wonderful people in our community.
— Louis Gobbi
Scotch Hall’s Arnold Palmer Signature golf course also proved to be irresistible. “With the beautiful course right outside our door,” Lois said, “we have both taken up golf, which is new for us.” Other outdoor recreations have also become part of their lifestyle. “The swimming pool is a big attraction for us and our family and friends,” she continued. “During the summer, I do water aerobics classes three days a week. We also enjoy jet skiing and tried kayaking with the family recently. We’re going to buy our own kayaks and maybe build our own dock in the future.”
And, the Gobbis have found a lot to like just beyond the Scotch Hall gates. “We really enjoy trips to Edenton, which is 20 minutes over the bridge from our home,” Richard said. “Edenton has become our local town where we attend church, shop at the farmers market, and frequent the local stores and restaurants.”
“We also love to go to the Outer Banks, which is a little over an hour and a half away,” Lois added. “We always stop at Manteo, a quaint town on the water with shopping and restaurants.”
“And, we’re planning to explore more of North Carolina,” Richard said, “especially west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Asheville area.”
Closer to home, the Gobbis have made new friends and hosted holiday dinners for their neighbors. “Scotch Hall is such a special place,” Lois concluded, “not just because of its beautiful surroundings, but because of the wonderful people in our community.”
At “The Meeting of the Waters,” Lois and Richard Gobbi have found just the right balance for the ongoing adventure of their lives.
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The Fried Chicken Chronicles
An Arizona chef dives head first into Carolina cuisine
What do you get when you put a west coast boy smack dab in the middle of a Southern kitchen? Seasonal world cuisine with a side of mashed potatoes, as it turns out. In another attempt to explore the chefs within the prestigious country club industry, I got to know Chef Francisco Villalba (lovingly known as Chef Frankie). At The Reserve Club at Woodside in Aiken, SC, he takes on everything from down-home cooking to themed events to one hell of a July 4th party for over 400 guests. Though his passion for the culinary arts has taken him far from his roots, he’s becoming grounded (and quite well-versed) in making meatloaf and mingling with shrimp boat captains. This is his story.
Chef Francisco Villalba | The Reserve Club at Woodside | Aiken, SC
What was your journey to getting where you are today in your culinary career?
Chef Francisco Villalba: When I got out of high school, I had a very different path. I was at a regular college where I had received a full ride for soccer, and I was in the Nursing Program. I started cooking at a bar and after a while—realized that it was my thing (but I didn’t want to be a grill cook).
I wanted to be a professional chef. I studied at the Art Institute of Phoenix and got my Associates Degree in culinary as well as Hotel and Restaurant Management. While I was in school, I was hired at a 4-diamond hotel in Arizona. I was in over my head, but I stuck it out and developed my culinary repertoire. If you want to be good at something and do something you love, you educate yourself along the way and learn quickly.
I was the Executive Sous Chef at the country club I came from in Scottsdale, AZ. The company who manages them is responsible for properties all over the world, and an opportunity for the Executive Chef position opened up here. I applied and was given a shot on a big leap of faith.
What drew you into the country club environment versus working in a regular restaurant?
Chef Francisco Villalba: When I was working in the hotel industry, I was the chef of the conference center and was feeding anywhere from 300 – 2,000 a day. Customers started to just feel like numbers. Now I get to work directly with people and cater to them. I fell in love with the private club aspect through being able to have a more personalized relationship with the members. In this field, I get to listen to our guests, provide them with what they want, tackle any obstacles, and keep people happy.
Do you operate and create menus for both dining areas—the main dining room and Latitudes? And, is there one where you feel more comfortable, or that fits best with your culinary point of view?
Chef Francisco Villalba: I do operate both. In the main dining room, we serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and that’s our comfort food zone (like fried chicken and meatloaf). Since I’m from Arizona and still learning about Southern cuisine, that’s an exploratory area for me. Latitudes is only open Friday and Saturday for dinner and it’s a la carte service as well as higher-end entrees. At Latitudes, I get to play a little bit more and use more elevated ingredients.
My culinary style is seasonal world cuisine. I’m first generation Mexican American so I grew up with that Latin flair. I love to use different ingredients with different culinary techniques, make beautiful dishes, and please palates. From that standpoint, Latitudes is more challenging in a good way because it’s more rewarding. And, I get to have more fun than just putting down meat and potatoes.
What local ingredients and resources from the area do you enjoy using most in your kitchen creations?
Chef Francisco Villalba: I source my meats locally, as well as from Atlanta, and my pork comes from in town. I get my seafood from the coast. My salmon comes from Florida, and I have a good relationship with a shrimp boat captain from Louisiana. Since I came from the desert and am not used to having fresh products so readily available—it’s really nice! As far as produce goes, my menu cycles are based on what’s being harvested in the area.
What other fun culinary events have you created for Woodside members, and which one seems to be the hit?
Chef Francisco Villalba: We had a great 4th of July event where we fed over 450 people. It was a miracle that we pulled that one off! We had fireworks on the lawn, live music, and everyone ate well and had a great time. For Halloween, we did a murder mystery dinner and I just made a super fun menu where we used items like beet juice to mimic blood spatters! For the holidays, instead of doing a Thanksgiving buffet, we do pick-up orders. That way, people who don’t want to cook or dirty up their house (but want to entertain) have easy access to the luxury of having someone else cook for them.
Your recipe is very fall-centric, so I’m assuming you enjoy cooking your way through the seasons! Strictly speaking food, what’s your favorite time of the year (and what ingredients do you love most from that season)?
Chef Francisco Villalba: I would definitely say the summer. Fresh and light seafood is my go-to! I’m a fan of freshness and I cook with a lot of fruit and citrus, so the summer is the perfect time of year to brighten up the palate.
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Cambridge Village, A New Kind of Retirement
At a time when many seniors are as fit and well as some in their 30s, one retirement community is staying a step ahead of the game.
The design and functionality of retirement apartment complexes have changed almost as much as the senior population in recent years. Retirement facilities are now typically as vibrant, socially active, and wellness-centered as the average active adult.
But, Cambridge Village has taken things a step further by making their facilities both indiscernible at first glance from a fine resort hotel and spa, and simultaneously as comfortable, friendly, and social as a full-service college campus apartment complex. With locations in Apex, Wilmington, and a future location in Raleigh – Brier Creek, senior living innovation was well primed in these areas. The economy and health and wellness industries are booming in both cities, attracting young families and retirees from across the country and around the world. Then, of course, in Wilmington there’s the beach, which tends to be pretty popular among, well, everyone.
As we all know, where there are young grandchildren, grandparents are likely to follow. So, a high population of young, growing families tends to attract more seniors to an area by default.
Why Cambridge Village
Cambridge Village is intended to offer a low-maintenance, wellness-focused, resort-style living experience to seniors busy living some of the best years of their lives. And, this feeling is immediately conveyed when one enters the lobby at Cambridge’s Wilmington location. There’s a feeling of ease, and a sense of well-being that feels deliciously contagious. And, given that Cambridge Village in Wilmington is less than five minutes from Wrightsville Beach and a stone’s throw from Mayfaire Town Center, it’s in the mix with everything that tourists and residents flock to. Cambridge residents can take morning walks to nearby cafes and shops, or an evening bike ride to their favorite Wrightsville Beach restaurant.
What’s to Love
Community activities are integral to everyday life at Cambridge Village. Many residents have children and grandchildren in the area, and have moved to Cambridge to be close to them while maintaining autonomy and independence. Others simply chose Cambridge Village for the location, or to stay close to the town and an area they know and love. But, all residents chose Cambridge partially from a desire to surround themselves with people they can relate to, and to develop a sense of community.
“Our residents come from all over,” said Katie Manning, Chief Marketing Strategist at Cambridge Village. “We have snowbirds who came down for warmer weather, people who moved to Wilmington to retire, and lifelong Wilmingtonians.”
And, with such diverse backgrounds comes the perfect environment for community building. Residents meet up for lunch at the Village Restaurant with Chef Charlie Blake, or for shuffleboard at the pub. They play pool, walk at Wrightsville Beach on Friday mornings, organize dances, put together wine & cheese neighborhood socials, play Mahjong and poker, and watch movies in the theater. And, many hop on weekly group bike rides and shuttle trips around town.
The Center for Optimal Living
Not only is the Center for Optimal Living impressive in its own right, but the structure implemented therein also helps residents to “achieve optimal wellness in body, mind, and spirit.”
Dozens of machines line the windows in a bright sunlit fitness room. There’s an extensive weight room and a yoga and fitness room across the hall that’s super-spacious and beautifully designed. And, the grand finale is an indoor five-lane lap pool with glass lining one wall and an industrial but elegant ceiling that adds specific interest and inspiration. But, behind all the fancy fitness rooms and equipment is a physician-led concierge approach to living a healthy lifestyle. Trainers, instructors, and a physician all come together to design the optimal plan for each resident.
And, because nothing is optimal without a smoothie bar nearby, Cambridge Village hasn’t forgotten. The Village Smoothie Bar is just beyond the pool.
Cambridge Village resident, Ed Drew, is not alone when he says that the Center for Optimal Living is what sold him.
“We’d already visited several places. But, when we got to Cambridge, and I saw that wellness center downstairs, and that beautiful, magnificent pool, that did it…I said, ‘I love this place! Then I said, ‘Okay, now, let’s look at the rest of it’,” Drew said with a chuckle. “So we did. And, we totally fell in love with it.”
Center for Optimal Living memberships are available to the general public for those over the age of 45, and will soon be available to all adults, with a maximum of 350 total memberships available.
Medspa at Cambridge
If the Center for Optimal Living is going a step beyond, then the Medspa at Cambridge is a giant leap. Walking into this full-service Medspa is instantly as sensual and relaxing an experience as it is in any spa. From massage therapy, facials and mani/pedis, to botox, laser treatments, and more, residents can treat themselves, and take care of themselves, as often as they need or would like to. The Medspa also includes a full service hair salon frequented by residents as well as the general public. Families, children, and friends are beyond welcome at the Village. Cambridge Village is designed to accommodate and nurture such connections. “We love to see our residents spending time with their families, enjoying a nice dinner or holiday meal in the Village Restaurant, and enjoying our relaxing outdoor space by the fire pits,” said Manning.
Life comes together at Cambridge Village and it all meets seniors where they are. Just when folks are ready to say no to cooking and maintaining and yes to visiting and enjoying and exploring, Cambridge Village staff steps in to make that happen.
In addition to lavish 1-2 bedroom apartments (some complete with a sunroom), residency at Cambridge Village includes an extensive list of amenities.
Here’s a quick list:
- Library, chapel, media room, and game rooms
- MedSpa & Salon
- Cafe and Pub/Lounge
- Fitness Center Membership
- Professional Directed Optimal Living Program
- Cable TV/Phone/Internet
- Housekeeping and linen services
- Emergency response system
- Washer and dryer in all apartments
- Fire sprinkler and smoke detection
- Luxurious wall-to-wall carpeting
- All maintenance and repairs
- Resident mailboxes
- Resident manager on site
- Guest suites available
- Individually controlled heat and air conditioning
- Scheduled transportation by courtesy shuttle to appointments
- Wireless internet access throughout
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The Upside to Downsizing and Organizing Your “Stuff”
I’ve relocated several times, but until my last move, they were corporate transfers; i.e. I didn’t have to pay for them. I had a blasé approach to the moving process, knowing I didn’t have to do the sorting, wrapping, packing, or unpacking, and the ace in the hole was that there was always another basement to store my extra stuff. But, when I moved to the Southeast, it was on MY dime … and there was no basement. All at once, this packing thing took on a whole different dimension, and I discovered that, although not easy, there are many upsides to downsizing/decluttering. Let’s take a look at the WHYS, then the HOWS, then the WHERES. (One important caveat: I’m not talking about downsizing the square footage of your house; I’m talking about downsizing your STUFF. About 46 percent of Boomers who plan to move expect to increase the size of their new home or to keep the same approximate square footage, according to the Demand Institute.)
The Why: Benefits of decluttering
Decluttering is healthy. Period. You save time, are more productive, and are more clear and efficient when your life and home are decluttered. How many minutes/hours have I spent over the past years looking for hand-written thoughts about an article I planned to write, notes for an interview that would be handy, or a phone number I scribbled on a piece of paper instead of entering it directly into my phone? Too many. My office tends to grow little mounds of paper that miraculously reproduce on my desk and on a chair and an ottoman in the corner of my office. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that physical clutter vies for your attention and affects your ability to focus, resulting in lower performance. I have (empty) drawers with file folders and a closet with shelves. I have no excuse.
Relive memories/find cool stuff. Cleaning out the “junk drawers” in my kitchen (I have two of them), I found dozens of “telescope” pictures we had taken over the years while vacationing in Ocean City, MD. How much fun to look at my three children (now in their 30s) as little kids and re-live those memories immortalized on a bit of film at the end of a two-inch telescope-shaped keychain. My kids and grandkids love looking at these unearthed treasures. You never know what you’ll find until you start going through your stuff. It can be a rewarding trip down memory lane.
Boost your mood/feel more competent. When I’m heading out for an appointment and cannot locate my keys or phone (I know it’s a big no-no not putting them in the same place all the time), it is stressful. Getting rid of the clutter and having everything in its place reduces anxiety and makes you feel in control.
Sleep better. A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who make their beds every day (almost every day) and have a tidy bedroom sleep better and more soundly than those who do not. And, the ritual of turning down a made bed helps prime our brains for sleep. I am on track with this one.
Save money/feel virtuous. With the new tax laws, most of us will be taking the standard deduction, and therefore, getting no deduction for donating our stuff, but you can still use the internet, consignment shops, or yard sales to make some money. And, giving away your things to organizations or people who can use them makes you feel good about yourself. Plus, if you’re paying for a move, less stuff equals money saved.
Your clutter will ultimately become someone else’s problem to deal with if you’re not proactive. Not a nice thing to do to your family/friends.
I’ll be the first to admit that decluttering isn’t a fun chore, although I do feel freer, lighter, and more energized after making progress. And, remember: YOUR KIDS DON’T WANT YOUR STUFF! Well, perhaps if there’s a Rolex watch or Mikimoto pearl earrings or a 1964 Ford Mustang convertible, but probably not the treadmill or your Noritake Blue Hill china from 43 years ago (take it from one who knows). But, just in case, consult them prior to the big declutter (I did want to keep a few of my parents’ things).
The How: Starting the Process
Like many things in life, there is no one right way to approach your decluttering adventure. Some experts suggest you start in the attic or top floor and work your way down. Others say do it by category (e.g. books, papers, DVDs, flat surfaces throughout the house, clothing, children’s memorabilia, pictures, etc.). Or, approach the task by time: Spend five minutes each hour putting things in their proper place, or get three big plastic bags, and work until they’re filled—one with trash, one with recyclables, and one with donations. Then, repeat on a regular schedule.
I started in my basement—I knew that was the place that had the most things I could easily throw away, give away, or recycle. Did I really need my Organic Chemistry book from graduate school? Or my broken basketball trophy from eigth grade? The outdated 52-inch big screen TV shoved into a corner? Nope. Those were easy decisions, and gave me a feeling of accomplishment. I gathered my three adult kids’ stuff I had saved from when they were little, put them into boxes, and handed them over to them, with the caveat that we’d hold onto one box each for them if they wanted us to do so. I spent 20 minutes every day decluttering. Long enough to make progress, but a short enough stint that I didn’t burn out.
It took a while, but it got done. And, I kept reminding myself that I was saving money by not paying the movers for things I’d never use anyway.
The Where: Who will take it
There are lots of options. I was lucky. One of our sons had a friend who wasn’t going to college but had a job, bought a house, and needed to furnish it. He came and hauled away our still-usable furniture and other items that wouldn’t be a good “fit” in our new house/warm climate. Friends with college kids who needed to furnish an off-campus apartment were a gold-mine. We put usable stuff at the bottom of our driveway on trash day; people would drive by and pick things up, like a Little Tikes basketball set (our kids were in their 20s when we moved). And, our trash company picked up big items on certain days with prior notification.
As their website states, “1-800-GOT-JUNK? will take anything non-hazardous that two strong, able-bodied crew members can lift.” My brother used them for a big basement declutter. They offer free estimates, and pricing is based on volume. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? claims they recycle and donate your stuff whenever possible. They do not operate in every zip code.
Free pick-ups are possible. Contact Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Amvets, St. Vincent de Paul (they picked up a lot of my donations), Vietnam Veterans of America, your local Humane Society, etc. Of course, you can always deliver your donations to them. And don’t forget local places that help others but don’t pick-up. We have a place in our county called Emmanuel’s Closet that is run by volunteers and gives donated clothing to those in need. Donation Town (www.donationtown.org) is a handy reference for charities in your area that will pick up donations.
Sell your stuff. Consider eBay, Amazon, Bonanza, or Next Door (a neighborhood network). And, there are always consignment shops or yard sales. Just be cautious about people you don’t know coming to your home.
Have you seen those “Donation Boxes” by the side of the road? They are frequently for-profit textile recycling collection bins; the donated clothing is sold to recyclers that turn them into products like insulation or padding for carpets. A small percentage of their profits may be donated to a charity. If it’s a convenient way to dispose of clothing (I am guilty), I assuage my guilt with the idea I’m keeping my clothes out of a landfill; it’s estimated the average American throws away about 80 pounds of used clothing a year.
Let’s “cut the clutter.” And, keep Frozen’s Queen Elsa’s song in our head as we approach this difficult but rewarding task: “Let it Go.”
Jan Cullinane is an award-winning retirement author, speaker, and consultant. Her current book is The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley).